Meet Elite Rider Cara Applegate
USCF: Category 1
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Current: Asheville, NC
Cara has been for cycling for over 13 years. Her husband is a coach with Carmichael Training Systems, and an elite rider. Together they have 3 National Champions wins in the tandem division. Cara has claimed numerous first place titles in Road, Cyclocross, Time Trialing and Mountain Biking.
How long have you been racing?
2010 marks my 14th season of competitive racing.
Who or what inspired you to start racing?
I had a void to fill after my competitive swimming season ended, and cycling was an easier sport to adapt to as a bulky swimmer than running. Ultimately what keeps my coming back is the thrill of competition and a desire to maintain lifetime fitness.
What do you do for a living?
I am the Controller for a solar energy installation company, FLS Energy, Inc. I am also CEO of the Applegate household.
What race are you most proud of?
In the 2009 Master National Criterium Championships I placed 2nd, largely in part to acting on my instincts and perfectly timing the race-winning attack. I was certainly not the second strongest woman in that field and I love that in cycling being the strongest rider is not always the race defining criteria – though it certainly helps.
What do you do for fun when you’re off the bike?
Once a week I meet-up with a group of French speakers and talk about random fun stuff, in French. I volunteer my time to cycling as Treasurer for two separate teams (I just can’t get enough of numbers). I am also in my second year of beekeeping (if they survive the winter), and I keep a pathetic veggie garden that I hope my bees will pollinate. Mostly, though, I eat, sleep, and dream bicycles.
What was your first bike?
My mom and dad bought a pink huffy from a neighbor, I think when I was 8. I tried to ride no-handed on it and crashed and stopped riding it for a good while. My first “racing” bike was actually an incredibly old steel framed bike with original components and downtube shifters, in the era of first generation STI shifters. You’d be surprised what you can make go fast around corners…
What’s your dream spot to go for a ride?
Many years ago my husband and I spent a week in the southeast of Spain, where the mountains parallel the sea. It was an incredible experience to be able to climb into the mountains and then descend down to the water, all in a warm climate. Time may have distorted my memory of the traffic there, but it was wonderful to be able to spend one ride next to the ocean and in the mountains as well.
Any pre-race rituals or routines? Something you can’t race without (pre-race meal, warm-up, lucky charms)?
Absolutely not! Depending on the length of the race, I do like to get in a good warm-up, as the fitter I am the harder it seems to get moving, but many years of racing has taught me to go with the punches. The most important thing is to remain calm and focused. I’ve found that convincing myself that I’m ready for the race, regardless of situation, is worth almost as much as the most perfect pre-race preparation.
Favorite music to train to?
No music. Just the sound of my bike and traffic whizzing by on the road, or the trees creaking if I’m riding in the woods.
Any nicknames for other team members? For yourself?
I have a tendency to add “kins” to dear people’s names, or “ita”… So Laura is Laurita, Evie is Eviekins… Once upon a time my nickname was Lazybones, a perfect misnomer. Now most people just mispronounce my name enough that it could be considered a nickname. (Pronunciation = Car-uh, not Care-uh)
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
My husband and I will attempt to reclaim the Masters Tandem Road Race National Title (yeah, Shogrens, we’re taking it back!), and will also undertake a new race – the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, on a tandem.
Any advice for an aspiring racer?
Relax, have fun, ride your bike, and think big picture.
Read more about the Performance Bicycle Racing Team.